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Old 07-30-2005, 12:49 AM   #1
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Default Booker bouncing back

Booker bouncing back

April 27, 2005
By Craig TerBlanche
NFL Europe

"I was out of football for two years," Booker said. "Most people don't realize how important the first opportunity is because the window of opportunity is very slim and a lot of people don't get it to open back up. Just being here I realize how important everything is as far as experience and taking it seriously. I kept working hard and now I got my shot at NFL Europe."

Booker had a late start on football and only started playing as a freshman at West Haven High School in Connecticut.

"I was always too big for Pop Warner and midget football," he said. "I came in my freshman year and was 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, so I think football was the only sport I could play."

Booker's football path continued on to Michigan State where he was a two-year starter at left offensive tackle and won the Amp Campbell/President's Award as the team's most outstanding lineman.

"I went to Michigan State and started out on the defensive side of the ball," he said. "I switched to offensive tackle my sophomore year where I had some success. I was willing to make the move because I was going to play on offense."

Coming out of college Booker signed on with the Atlanta Falcons, but was later released. After a series of bad agents led him off course, Booker used his education and went to work.

"I ended up substitute teaching at my old high school," he said. "Then I got a job in a group home working with foster children and things like that. I was a family community services major and this was close to social work, so it was something I really enjoyed."

Although he was happy doing something he loved, it was not enough. Booker missed the game of football, and during his two-year hiatus, he never gave up his dream of playing in the NFL.

"It is very difficult to be away from the game," he said. "You miss that camaraderie and being around the guys. The pressure of professional sports brings a certain feeling that you can't get anywhere else except in that locker room. I never gave up, but there have been some down periods. It was a matter of working hard and getting someone to work hard for me."

Booker did exactly that. He continued to work hard and soon found an agent who would hard for him.

"Between working at the group home and working out, that was all I was doing," he said. "I was trying to stay in shape, so when that chance came, I would be ready. I ended up getting a good agent in John Pace, who has worked extremely hard for me and has put me in the position that I am in today."

Currently, the 6-7, 319-pound Booker is starting at left tackle for the first-place Amsterdam Admirals. It's an offensive line that has only given up six sacks and boasts the league's leading rushers in Jonathan Smith and Jarrett Payton, who have carried the ball 96 times for a total of 557 yards.

"I have been doing pretty well so far, but there is always room for improvement," he said. "It means the world for me to be here. I have learned that you can't worry about the stuff that you can't control. Control what you can control and work hard and everything else will take care of itself. That is my motto and so far it has worked for me."

Booker's road back to the NFL has been a long and winding one, but he's just thankful it led him to Amsterdam.

"Sometimes you hear that guys don't want to be here," he said. "For me it's a must. I want to be here. I am glad to be here because without this I wouldn't be getting a second shot."

Link: http://www.nfleurope.com/teams/story/AMS/8423731
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Old 07-30-2005, 09:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Booker bouncing back

Does this guy belong to the Steelers?
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Old 07-30-2005, 02:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Booker bouncing back

Yes he is on the roster. He'll be at training camp.
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